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> smaller Clandestine organisations would by necessary [sic] concentrate more power in fewer hands

I think that "by necessity" is not true here. A smaller organization can not do as much as a larger organization. Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what? They still need bodies for tax collecting, law enforcement, jailers for the secret prisons, whatever. Those people need information to do their jobs, which increases the circle size, etc, and we're back where we started.

Assange's insight into clandestine organizations as information networks that can be disrupted is profound. You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.


>A smaller organization can not do as much as a larger organization.

See 'The Mythical Man Month', SpaceX vs other aerospace companies or the writings of R. V. Jones on the advantages of keeping intelligence agencies small.

>Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what?

I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.

>You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.

The current choice is between: large, ineffective and semi-transparent or large, even more ineffective and semi-opaque. I agree with Assange on this.

The danger is that we could get small, effective and truly-opaque, but it is unlikely to happen due to political concerns.


> See ... on the advantages of keeping intelligence agencies small.

Excellent resources. For a counterpoint on the specific organization type we're discussing, governments, see libertarianism.

> I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.

You brought up coup as a potential consequence of tightened lines of communication and increased secrecy & concentration of power in a few hands. My point was that even in that hypothetical, in order to transition from coup to government you have to widen the circle again, dilute the power, and we're back to the large-ineffective paradigm again. Short term: maybe maybe consequences; long term: same old story.


> I can't think of a time when I've needed flowers in the next 90 minutes, but if you want flowers even in the next week, you tend to get gouged...

Exactly. I can't think of a time when I've needed flowers in 90 minutes, but I can think of a half a dozen times when I've wanted them same day, and at least a dozen or more when I've wanted them next day without paying a gigantic surcharge.


From the article:

> Three government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said the number would be substantially higher if it included other NSA operating units and regional collection centers.


Oh man, that Nokia sound.

I remember in 2002 I was watching a movie in a London theater, and the lights went dark, and the movie was just about to start, and... that Nokia sound went off. The entire theater groaned, "AWWWWWW". And then, another went off, and another, and several more, until it was an absolute cacophony of Nokia sounds.

Then the Nokia logo came on screen, accompanied by the words, "Please silence your cell phones."

The groans turned into sincere chuckles.

That was one of the earliest pre-movie reminders, and still one of the best. And it only worked (full circle here), because that Nokia sound was so iconic.


I always liked this procedurally generated nighttime cityscape by Shamus Young: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-d2-P...

He wrote a whole article series walking you through it, plus source, etc, starting here: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=2940


I also really liked Shamus's Project Frontier, a detailed walkthrough on generating an entire procedural world. http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=11874

He released the executable at the end of the series, and I'm still sad that, as a non-programmer, I couldn't get it to run on my computer. I would have loved to have a chance to explore the world. Some of his screencaps are mindblowing.

[ETA: Since it's not immediately obvious how to get there from the rest of the articles on Project Frontier, here's the link to the source code: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15808]


I really enjoyed that whole series - learned a lot about 3D programming, which is part of the field I've never touched outside of motion planning in college.


beautifull. thanks!


LinkedIn probably banned them in order to prevent sexism.


Oh, "internet memes," such pesky things! Why, every time there's a new Chuck Norris joke there are congressional hearings and amendments being debated! Such trouble! And remember that last time someone posted a cute cat video, and congresspeople made statements left and right (some of them even validating what the cat video said)?

My my, what trouble those "internet memes" get us into.


You sure did a lot there to avoid refuting his point (and avoid saying anything substantial, I might add). His point is that the actual abuse hasn't been documented, and they surely wouldn't do it in such a silly way as this article suggests if they were abusing it in this manner.


I was annoyed at the condescension of "internet meme", and was commenting on that.

When the clear potential for abuse has been thoroughly documented, getting nitpicky on actual abuse seems like a waste of time.

Of course, were I to get nitpicky, I'd say there is documented evidence of abuse (with NYTimes reporting going back years): http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130731/16193324027/nsa-bo...


EDIT: I do believe there's a difference between the potential for abuse and actual abuse. But I further believe the potential for abuse from global surveillance is so significant that even the potential is a dire problem in its own right. I was a bit too flippant about that distinction above.


It does make you wonder about the reporting rate on these sorts of events.

Considering the hostile skepticism on the thread about the article Ms Catalano posted, I would not be surprised if other people (especially those without professional writing credentials and a million-strong twitter audience) had decided not to come forward with their stories in the past.


Considering the hostile skepticism on the thread about the article Ms Catalano posted

There is nothing wrong with skepticism, and I would dispute that it was "hostile". We can't just go around accepting every story we read because it is a story we want it to be real.


Was the same level of skepticism shown when the government claimed that Snowden was lying? Why not?

Why is it that a private citizen is automatically doubted when they make a claim that is easily verifiable but when the government makes a claim that has been repeatedly contradicted by multiple people over the span of years, including at least two sitting US Senators, the government's claims are taken at face value?

Shouldn't her story get a minimum benefit of doubt until some independent reporting can be done on the claims? Especially when everything she claims is plausible given what is known about the government's capabilities.


Was the same level of skepticism shown when the government claimed that Snowden was lying? Why not?

Uh, didn't really give me a chance to answer there, did you?

I would say that the vast majority of people were skeptical of government claims that Snowden was lying. So the rest of your post is describing a situation that I did not witness.


Maybe it's just a matter of perspective but it seems to me to be much more common for people to go around denying stories they don't want to be real (police and government abuses of power).


it also makes you wonder if the interrogees still get treated with kid gloves when they aren't relatively well off people with access to money (and therefore lawyers) and large publications/audiences with which to complain.


That's your backtrack? That we don't know enough?

How is it OK that the local PD (acting as part of DoJ's Joint Terrorism Task Force) knows any factors that would reasonably lead them to investigate this family?


Except the Atlantic Wire article states that both the FBI and the JTTF denied visiting the house.

FBI spokesperson Peter Donald confirmed The Guardian's report that the FBI was not involved in the visit itself. Asked if the FBI was involved in providing information that led to the visit, Donald replied that he could not answer the question at this point, as he didn't know.

We asked if the Suffolk and Nassau police, which The Guardian reported were the authorities that effected the raid, are part of the government's regional Joint Terrorism Task Force. They are, he replied, representing two of the 52 agencies that participate. He said that local police are often deputized federal marshals for that purpose — but that the JTTF "did not visit the residence." He later clarified: "Any officers, agents, or other representatives of the JTTF did not visit that location."


I believe in the literal truth of those statements.

I do not believe it to be likely that the local PD had evidence that would warrant a raid that they obtained on their own through normal local police procedures.

What's the reconciliation?


No, we don't know enough. What we know is that something here looks odd, and that warrants more investigation.

Perhaps this particular person was already under investigation for something else. We don't know.

I want to know more, but I'm reserving my outrage until more facts and confirmation come out.


I agree with sensible skepticism and reserving judgment to wait for more facts.[0]

tptacek, on the other hand, led with "I don't buy this, at all", and "if you're trying to sell a hoax", and many more sentences and comments that attack the author and the story.

([0]: The real life complication is that in most cases you will never get all the facts, and so reserving judgment forever ends up being the worst kind of inaction.)


I haven't backtracked an inch.


So you still "don't buy this, at all"? Despite a credible news organization's confirmation that the FBI was aware of a local PD's visit to this family?

The mind boggles.


What makes my mind boggle is that idea that people would rely on a single blog post to assume the conclusion that the FBI is dragnetting Google searches for lead generation for suspicionless searches.

No, wait, that doesn't boggle my mind at all.


Who said it was suspicionless? That's just the author's assertion. They could have been targeted for some other reason (the frequent overseas travel for example) and then the searches came up when they were already being targeted.

Does that make it better?


Yes that does make it better. If the FBI are calling around to people, purely based on google searches that's terrible. If they are calling around to people based on a whole pile of other things that might be suspicious that's much better.


Tptacek, it's called clustering and outlier detection. Look it up before you make a complete fool of yourself.


dyinglobster, it's called the Bayesian Base Rate Fallacy, and you just fell for it.


It's called common sense.

NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst



All we know is that the local police visited her house. That is the entirety of what has been confirmed by The Guardian.

There is absolutely nothing with waiting for definitive evidence before making your mind up about something.


We know that the local police visited her house, and that the FBI knew about it.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable in trusting the author that the officers said they were with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is one of a few plausible ways the FBI would know about local PD activity.

Her credibility on the big fact is established. What are we missing, then? The details on what the questions were? Whether or not they were asked about their Google history? Where the intel came from?


For all we know, the FBI knew about it because so many people called them up to ask about it that they figured they'd call the local PD and ask them about it.

I don't think I'm being unreasonable in trusting the author that the officers said they were with the Joint Terrorism Task Force

From this WaPo article http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/01... :

“They were officers from the Nassau County Police Department who identified themselves as such,”

You might, justifiably, be suspicious of the police account. But all we have to go on are two contradicting accounts. Why not wait until we have some actual evidence?


The Guardian quote is incredibly weaselly (when ellipses appear in a quote it's a good sign that liberties are being taken). The same person stated that no one from the JTTF visited her house in any capacity, which includes police involved in the same.

So thus far -- assuming that the police aren't lying -- we've gone from terrorism task force visit caused by Google searches (that they do "100s of", apparently), to maybe, possibly, some local police visited her for some reason.


"assuming that the police aren't lying "

Unfortunately, this is an awfully huge assumption to make!


Regarding gcb0's pointing out of the Streisand Effect:



Kid's going to have a tough time getting hired now.

Not only did he make the mistake of shaming a customer online, a poor customer service practice in and of itself, but he went on to repeat that same mistake by writing an entirely unapologetic article about it.

Why would I want to hire someone that doesn't know how to bite his tongue? He seemingly lacks any of the necessary social mores for interacting with even moderately challenging customers, a skill I've seen better mastered in your average drive-through window.


I was wondering about that, but (thankfully for him) he seems to share his name with a Irish comedian. All he probably has to do is leave that job off his resume and it won't be particularly google-able.



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